So who’s gonna put this floor down anyway?


Okay I’m back – The family and I went down to the Keys for a little snorkeling and general R&R and I am jazzed to pick up where I left off in my series on flooring moisture….

crap- who am I kidding.  Quite frankly I wish I was still in the Keys and I’m a little sore about it. If only I had studied harder in college, had a couple dozen hundred fewer  beers – maybe I’d be that best selling author eating cracked crab on the back of his Yacht, wondering what island I should buy.(sigh).

Finewhateverweallcan’tberichandstuffokay-GAH! I’m back-  let’s do this.

Some of you who stumbled on this blog might actually want some answers on their floors.  In my last post we left off talking about why you can totally have a nice hardwood floor that will perform well installed over a slab here in Florida, as long as it is an engineered floor, and as long as it is installed properly.  This post will focus on the “installed properly” part.

I guess we need to start with the installer.  If you fancy yourself handy and intend to install your own hardwood floors you might want to skip this part because I need to talk about how to hire a sub-contractor.  (Okay Mr. Know-it-All-pants is gone) Listen, you may not believe this, but there are actually a few contractors out there who don’t know what they are doing-I KNOW, I KNOW, I was shocked too, if you need a minute I understand…

SO if there are bad subs out there, how do you make sure you get a good one? Boy I could start a blog dedicated to this alone and probably not get it right, it is a tricky business.  The definition of “contractor” should really be “NOUN: a person who might potentially be a skilled tradesman, but is too dysfunctional to actually have a job where he has to work for someone and put in a full days work.” There are a lot of places to find a contractor; from your dealer, from Craig’s list, Angie’s list, ServPro, it goes on and on.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each but let me give you a few pointers once you have this dude in your home measuring things up to give you an estimate.  First, I would interview no less than three contractors for any job.  Second, I would verify he has a valid occupational license and shows you an original liability insurance policy.  Third (Important!) I would ask to see his installation picture portfolio.  Any wood floor installer who is decent is proud of his work and will have pictures, and he needs to have a lot of pictures, from a variety of installations.  This is a deal breaker – If he says he hasn’t gotten around to printing out pictures or shows you two from his phone you need to not work with this person, he is not a pro.  Be sure to ask him for the phone number of the last two jobs he’s done.  He may want to give you a “reference” – why bother, if he wants you to call then it is going to be a good recommendation.  Try to call the last two jobs he was on, that will give you a more realistic picture of their work habits and quality.

Here is the most important part about hiring a hard wood flooring installer – at some point in your conversation, without you prompting him, the contractor should try and talk to you about sub-floor moisture.  He should be prepared to perform either a tramex meter test,  a calcium chloride test, or an RH probe test on your slab.  If he isn’t, he is not a pro.  These tests are the ONLY ones recognized as legitimate ways to measure vapor emissions from a concrete slab and are the best way for you to avoid a problem before you install a floor.  These tests will tell him exactly which installation method and which adhesive system to use.

Depending on the condition of the slab  there are essentially three installation methods for installing engineered hardwood over a slab –  a straight glue down, a glue down over a moisture barrier, or a floating floor application. I have already taken up too much of your time so I will get to these in my next post, which I promise to be very soon!


Categories: buying flooring, concrete slabs, flooring, flooring advice, flooring moisture, flooring problems, Floors For Florida, hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, scams

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7 replies »

  1. What do these tests look like and how do I know he (or she, don’t be a sexist pig) is doing one or that the results produced are valid. Is this a big, honkin’ machine he (pig!) drags out of his truck or is this a little device that could double as a baby thermometer? Help me out here.


    • The tramex meter is a non invasive electronic meter, but it is really only good for giving you a heads up thst you might have a problem. The calcium chloride test involves putting down 6″ disks that sit for 36 hrs and get sent away to a lab. The RH test is actually a probe that gets inserted into a hole that is drilled into the slab and a digital history is taken. This is the most accurate of the three. All three are pretty much hand held. Hope that helps!


  2. thank you for that wonderful information! You gave me great knowledge to know before I put down my flooring. Moisture I know is such an issue here in FLA.


  3. OK, I understand all but the RH test. What does digital history mean. Does the probe have to stay there for a while? If so how long? Or are you talking about some type of core sample.


    • You actually drill a hole about an inch and a half down into the slab in three or four areas of the house. The installer will slip in an electronic capsule that will give the installer an accurate reading in just over an hour. There are some systems where the capsule probe stays in the hole forever, and others where it is remove after the reading. Here is an electronic brochure for one that a lot of our installers use.

      Click to access Rapid%20RH%20Brochure.pdf


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